Utah County Birders Newsletter
November 2006

    November Meeting
    Upcoming Field Trips
    Provo CBC
    Feather Talk
    Field Trip Report - The Big Sit - October 8th, 2006
    Field Trip Report - Provo Airport Dike and Skipper Bay Trail - October 21st, 2006
    Backyard Bird of the Month
    October Hotline Highlights


Wed, November 8th.
Your Trigger Bird  (Hook Bird)

Round table presentation - people will share their stories about the bird that got them hooked. If no hook bird - then how they got into birding. Come prepared with your story.

Meet at 7:00 PM in the Bean Museum Auditorium on the BYU Campus.


Saturday, November 11th.

Deer Creek Area - We will look for loons and winter ducks. Meet at 8:00 a.m. at the 8th North Park & Ride at the mouth of Provo Canyon.


Saturday, December 16th.

Let Merrill know if you can participate and where you would like to be assigned - 224-6113 or merrill_webb@yahoo.com.

Feather Talk
By Alton Thygerson

Turkeys Remind Us to Be Thankful

The centerpiece of today’s Thanksgiving in the United States is a large meal starring a large roasted turkey. Because turkey is the most common main dish of a Thanksgiving dinner, Thanksgiving is sometimes colloquially called Turkey Day.

Incidentally, should you be in Sanpete County stop at Moroni’s turkey plant a few blocks south of where the bend in the road turns east as you drive into Moroni. They have turkey in all shapes and forms (e.g., whole turkeys, turkey breasts, turkey steaks, turkey sausage, turkey hamburger) for sale at their outlet store.

The idea that Benjamin Franklin preferred the Turkey as the national bird comes from a letter he wrote to his daughter in 1784 criticizing the choice of the Bald Eagle as the national bird and suggesting that a Turkey would have made a better alternative. Benjamin Franklin wrote (source: Wikipedia encyclopedia):

For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country . . .

I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.

This letter to Franklin's daughter was written after congress spent six years choosing the eagle as the emblem of the newly formed country. The Wild Turkey has been adopted as the official game bird of Alabama, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.

The barnyard turkey is a rather stupid creature leading to the insulting tone of the word turkey. The wild form is a wary and magnificent bird, and is among our best-known birds.

The Thanksgiving holiday reinforces the idea that we should be thankful for all of the many blessings we have. Sometimes we tend to forget them in the hustle and hassle of daily life. As your Utah County Birders President for the past two years, I am grateful and indebted to several people who have made the UCB run smoothly and admirably. And, therefore, when you get an opportunity, express a word of thanks for serving us so well. These people are:

• Carol Jean Nelson and Sylvia Cundick who ably served as the secretary/treasurer.

• Tuula Rose who arranged for at least one field trip per month but went the extra mile by conducting several each month.

• Dennis Shirley who provided creative and interesting monthly programs.

• Eric Huish for putting our monthly newsletter together and then sends out hard and electronic copies.

• Larry Draper who strived to publicize our events in local newspapers.

• Bonnie Williams for keeping the hotline going.

• Milt Moody for being a super webmaster, and who makes the UCB and Utah birders look good.

• To all of the UCB Past-Presidents who made the UCB a viable organization.

• Every UCB member who attended UCB’s programs and field trips. Without your participation there would be no need for the Utah County Birders.

I sincerely wish each of you happy a Happy Thanksgiving.

Incidentally and unlike Benjamin Franklin, I like both Bald Eagles and Wild Turkeys!

Field Trip Report
The Big Sit
- October 8th, 2006
by Eric Huish

Harold, Milt, Tuula and KC standing in our sit circle - October 8th, 2006
photo by Eric Huish

The moat in the morning - view from our circle - October 8th, 2006
photo by Eric Huish

Participants: KC Childs, Eric Huish, Harold Clayson, Milton Moody, Tuula Rose.

Location: Provo Airport Dike.

Weather: Sunny, highs in the upper 60s, a little wind in the evening.

Time: 6:30 a.m. - 12:00 and 4:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. 9 ½ hours.

This was our 5th annual Big Sit. KC and I started the count at 6:30 a.m. Our first birds of the day were a couple of Barn Owls flying around our circle while it was still dark. Very Fun. Harold showed up a little to late for the owls but in time for the rush of species at dawn. Milt and Tuula came by a little later in the morning and we all had a great time bird watching and chatting on a very beautiful, sunny day.

We ended the day with a total of 46 species. 9 short of our record. We saw 4 new species we had never before seen during our previous sits... Osprey, Virginia Rail, Bank Swallow and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Which puts our 5 year overall list at 92 species. If we could only get all those in one day.

Some sightings of note which we couldn’t count - KC left the circle for a moment and flushed a Common Poorwill off the side of the road very near the circle but we couldn’t see it FROM the circle. Other birds seen nearby but not from the circle were: Loggerhead Shrike, American Robin, Morning Dove and Brewer’s Blackbird. There was also a Red Fox hunting out in the fields around the airport that entertained us for a while.

Our Big Sit is always held on the opening weekend of the duck hunt. Due to higher water levels this year the marshes were again filled with water. At 6:58 the relative silence was broken by hundreds of gun shots and shots were heard persistently throughout the morning. The hunting appeared to be much better than in years past.

One friendly hunter set up right near our sit circle before dawn and again at dusk. He even pointed out a few birds with us after he was done hunting in the morning. He got a few ducks in the morning, nothing we didn’t already have on our list, but in the evening he came back with a Northern Shoveler which we were never able to identify from our circle. Many of the birds he shot in poor light so we were unable to identify them, but we saw most of them fall into the water. So... can we count this shoveler if we most likely saw the duck fall?

(We didn’t count it. If we had been one away from our record we would have.)

Field Trip Report
Provo Airport Dike
and Skipper Bay Trail - October 21st, 2006
by Grant K. Jense

Utah County Birders on the Provo Airport Dike - October 21st, 2006
photo by Eric Huish

Six Utah County Birders met at Sam’s Club parking lot on a clear cool fall morning. We drove to the Provo Airport Dike were we met three more birders. The temperature was near freezing, but the birds were quite active. Thirty-nine species were observed: Pied-billed Grebe, Eared Grebe, Western Grebe, Clark’s Grebe, Great Blue Heron (freeway exit on south university), Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, American Kestrel, Ring-necked Pheasant, Virginia Rial, Ring-billed Gull, California Gull, Forster’s Tern, Mourning Dove, Belated Kingfisher, Northern Flicker, Black-billed Magpie, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Barn Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Marsh Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, American Robin, European Starling, American Pipit, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Brewer’s Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, House Finch, American Goldfinch and House Sparrow.

By the time we started the walk along Skipper Bay Trail, the temperature had warmed up and the walk was very pleasant. Most of the birds seen were the same at both areas. The highlights of the Skipper Bay Trail were watching a Virginia Rail feeding along the edge of the cattails at the end of the trail and watching five adult and two juvenile Clark’s Grebes. The juvenile grebes were quite small for this late in the year and the adults were calling frequently.

You just can not beat a pleasant walk on a pretty fall morning while watching birds!

Backyard Bird of the Month
October 2006

Ned Bixler - Provo
Broad-winged Hawk - Maybe I should say - my favorite bird, in the sky, above my yard. It was hovering very low over my yard.

Steve Carr - Holladay
Sharp-shinned Hawk - several visits in October

Alona Huffaker - Springville
A little flock of Ruby-crowned Kinglets that visited for a couple of days.

Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Western Screech-Owl - I sometimes hear them calling during the night.

Milt Moody - Provo
Dark-eyed Juncos coming in for the winter.

Bruce Robinson - West Jordan
House Sparrow - Didn't have much time for birding!!

Reed Stone - Provo
Cedar Waxwings - they love my Pyrocantha and Mt. Ash berries.

Alton Thygerson - Provo
Spotted Towhee - seen two different times on the same day, but haven't seen it since.

Bonnie Williams - Mapleton
Black-billed Magpie - They don’t come around very often.

We would like you to share your favorite backyard bird each month. Please send your favorite bird at the end of the month to newsletter@utahbirds.org or call 360-8777. If you would like a reminder at the end of the month e-mail the above address.